Saturday, June 4, 2005

King of Comedy

Well, I haven't updated for several days, so I suppose I should. It's all about my car and my phone. I went to see Revenge of the Sith last Sunday night at Block E. The movie was okay, not great. Visually stunning, but the script was pretty weak. I guess Hayden Christensen just doesn't hold my attention either...

Anyway, I went to the restroom after the movie let out, and realized that my phone was missing. I'd worn some shorts that I shouldn't have. The pockets were too small and they're out of style anyway. At any rate, I went back into the theater to look for my phone, but couldn't find it. I eventually left a note for folks at Block E to e-mail me if they found it (I had no phone, so leaving a number seemed silly).

When I got home, I sent myself a text message via e-mail just in case whoever found it hadn't turned it off and back on to see the convenient message I'd left as a welcome message. It would turn out that nobody bothered to read either my text messages or the welcome note. Anyway, I sent a second text message in the morning, then looked up the recent activity via the T-Mobile website. Uh oh—phone call to Ecuador. That only happens in movies! Sheesh.

So, hoping to prevent any more international dialing (nevermind that I was over my monthly minutes anyway) I went into downtown to try to find the T-Mobile store. I couldn't remember where it was, so it took some wandering before it was found at the IDS Center's Crystal Court. My phone was replaced for $42 and change and after just a few minutes of chit-chat. The new phone is a Nokia 6010, replacing a 3595.

Well, sort of. The new phone doesn't always display the time on the main screen, and I haven't been able to figure out how to change that. The new phone also wasn't working with GPRS, but that may have just been temporary (it's possible that I went over my 1MB of traffic per month, and they might just cut you off, though I'm not sure).

Of course, once whoever it was that found my phone realized that he couldn't make any more calls, it magically ended up in the office at Block E. I got an e-mail at about 5:45 PM. I think they may have had it for a few hours beforehand, since there were a few other call attempts around 2:30 PM, but then again they were mostly to women listed on my contact list. So nice that people want to terrorize people when they get a phone randomly landing in their lap (this is why I assume the person who stole it is a "he" rather than a "she").

Anyway, so I got the phone back after it became a dud to whoever found it. I'm actually using it now with the 6010's faceplate because of the aforementioned clock and data problems. Maybe I'll find the magic clock-enabling trick at some point and switch back to the new phone.

My car is finally repaired, at least enough so it won't stall anymore when leaving the highway. It's pretty straightforward—a solenoid in the torque converter that engages the internal "clutch" when traveling at highway speeds wasn't disengaging anymore. I was worried this would cost mondo cash, but $273 isn't too bad IMHO. It's not really clear if this helped the stuttering/jerking I've been feeling for a while—apparently that goes away when the air conditioner is turned on! Weird.

Well, I suppose I'll go to the TCLUG meeting tomorrow. It's about the SuSE distribution, owned by Novell these days. I don't know much about SuSE, so I may as well learn something about it.

Posted by mike at 12:18 AM | Car , Hardware , Movies | Comments (0)

Monday, June 6, 2005

Snap

Well, I suppose that since I uploaded this image without any alteration whatsoever (other than re-saving at a better compression ratio), this means that I've mastered my camera. Sort of. It's still the wrong freaking color. Stupid stone with its purple tinge. Oh well. About as good as you'll ever get without spending mondo cash, I suppose.

I wandered around a lot today, and ended up getting sunburn plus a near-case of heat stroke. In the future, I plan to take the bus... At least I ended up in a place where I could take the light rail back. Anyway, I wanted to take pictures of I-35W, some Mississippi River bridges, Eastcliff, and anything else I came across. A number of things screwed me up, though. The highway info sign at 4th Ave was displaying construction information rather than freeway travel times. The ramp meter right under the 5th Ave pedestrian bridge wasn't active either (well, to be expected at 11 AM..).

At the University of Minnesota, they are ripping up one of the worn-out walkways in the middle of the mall area. The Eastcliff mansion was also undergoing repairs, plus the flags there were at half-staff (why?). It was impossible to get a nice shot of the Ford Parkway Bridge too, as there is a fence in the way at one of the only decent places to get a shot. I suppose I either need to bring a stool next time or possibly try the visitor area near the lock & dam below.

I still want to take a picture of the KSTP studios someday, since it's a bit of a landmark on University Ave (I think so anyway). The Wikipedia image of the Minnesota State Capitol building is kind of poor since it was taken on an overcast day. There still isn't a great downtown Minneapolis image (one that had been there for quite a while was later shown to have undetermined copyright status and was deleted). And, well, Saint Paul is just lacking interesting images (as is Rochester).

Take a look at some of my images. The first dozen or so in that "Stuff I've made" section are relatively old, but I've added over 20 in the last few days.

Posted by mike at 11:52 PM | Photography | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Ring of Fire

I should give an update. I have a job, for the moment. It might blow over tomorrow (more likely Monday) or in a month. Maybe longer. Who knows. It's contracting.

Over the weekend, I went up to Duluth and back. Actually, that was just Saturday. I attended my cousin's graduation party. The drive up was kind of foggy near the lake, but it was really bad on the way back. Fortunately I didn't have to travel too far to get away from it. On Sunday, I mostly stayed inside to avoid the sun (which saw too much of me last week anyway).

Earlier in the week I'd been taking photos. I visited the top of the Foshay Tower, then wandered eastward into St. Paul. The bus let me off at St. Thomas rather than going through town as I hoped (I randomly picked the one weird variation of route 21 route that cuts back on a half-length trip).

Jumping forward in time, I attended a "meet and greet" for Minnesota Public Radio on Monday. Specifically, it was for 89.3, and potentially being one of those folks that sets up swag tables at shows or hands out goodies to folks at other events. We'll see if I ever do any of that.

Monday evening I got a call asking for a tweaked Word resume, which I sent out the next morning. Within an hour or so of sending that out, I was contracted for a job after a quick lunch meeting. Today I began working. Nevermind that the details are all screwed up.

Well, I shouldn't tell tales out of school, at least not yet. Suffice to say that I was having greater moral difficulties about this than with the potential work at United Defense...

Posted by mike at 11:33 PM | Family , Music , Weather , Work | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

So You Say

My job is probably going away. I was instructed not to go in tomorrow, and things will be worked out on Monday. Whatever.

I'm going home tomorrow because it's Father's Day weekend.

Posted by mike at 11:36 PM | Work | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

For Those About to Dial, We Salute You

I went home for the Father's Day weekend. I probably hadn't been home since coming down to help move my brother to California. I helped do some gardening, and got my dad a copy of the Spamalot soundtrack recording. We'll probably have to go see it if it comes through town, one of a very few musicals I'd ever be able to sit through.

There were some other discs I got: The eponymous Kasabian, Troubled Hubble's Making Beds in a Burning House, Let Go by Nada Surf, Demon Days from Gorillaz, and In Your Honor by Foo Fighters. They're all great discs, and actually my least favorite of the bunch is Demon Days, which is kind of surprising.

I volunteered Monday evening by helping in an after-school study session at a local charter school. It worked out alright, though I'm not sure exactly how helpful I'm supposed to be in that situation (plus some questions were phrased in a way that annoying way where you have to sit and ponder for a long time whether to put down the right answer or the answer you think they want to hear).

That storm was quite something. A bunch of traffic signals got knocked out or into a weird failure mode. A signal along Hiawatha Avenue was blinking red-green-red-green (rather than red-off-red-off), which was pretty wacky. Someone honked in my vicinity at one point, so they must have been thinking it was supposed to be like a ramp meter, but it was going way too fast for that... Idiot points to that guy for getting pissed off at people being cautious at a major intersection.

Posted by mike at 12:58 AM | Family , Music | Comments (0)

Former Dictators GONE WILD

According to Encyclopedia Americana, members of the presidential cabinet can be impeached. I haven't found much else to support that, though obviously the veep can get the can too. There are several "Impeach Bush" sites out there, but I think that's essentially like slicing a mythical hydra. I mean, do you want Cheney as president? Anyway, it is theoretically possible to dump Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, and Alberto Gonzales. It might also be possible to hit people who have cabinet-level offices, but are not part of the cabinet proper, such as Karl Rove and Andy Card. That's doubtful, though.

The low-hanging fruit would probably be Rumsfeld...

Update: Well, the Constitution says, "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." It's apparently unclear who exactly qualifies as a "civil officer," but it would include a fairly large number of appointed people in the executive branch.

Posted by mike at 02:24 AM | Politics | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 25, 2005

NRG

Interesting. Bet you didn't know that Texas uses more energy than any other U.S. state. On a per capita basis, Texans use over twice as much energy as Californians (464 vs. 227 million BTUs). The state as a whole used 12.0 quadrillion BTUs in 2001, while the more populous California used 7.9 quadrillion BTUs. The biggest energy users per capita are Alaskans at a whopping 1,164 million BTUs each, while Rhode Island residents sip energy at 215 million BTUs per capita. Minnesotans use a little more than the median level at 350 million BTUs per resident and 1.7 quadrillion BTUs overall.

Posted by mike at 04:33 PM | News | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Fumes

A curious thing I came across yesterday is that adding small amounts of acetone to gasoline and diesel fuel supposedly improves mileage. Something like 0.15% for diesel and 0.25% for gasoline gives the boost, reportedly. However, there doesn't seem to be any scientific testing of it. Heck, the acetone might simply clean the gunk out of the engine and make it run better (it's a major ingredient in many commercial products that do that). But, lots of folks have reported some fairly significant changes, and the effects go away (at least somewhat) when it is no longer used. I dunno, something to look at, I guess.

I also heard about water injection yesterday. Who knew that spraying water in along with your fuel can boost power? Maybe refineries shouldn't work so hard to get all of that water out of ethanol ;-) But it sounds like you might need mondo-super-turbo-charged engines for it to work anyway.

High octane sure is a weird concept. You might notice that ethanol has poorer fuel economy than gasoline. But, it has a higher octane rating and can therefore be used at higher compression. Saab is planning to introduce a flex-fuel turbo to take advantage of that.

And, did you know Minnesota has more E85 fueling stations than any other state? More than double the closest competitor, Illinois. I think we're also in the top three for biodiesel, though it's almost completely absent from the Twin Cities save for the Twin Cities Biodiesel Co-op, which appears to be based in the vicinity of Uptown.

Posted by mike at 12:14 AM | Car | Comments (0)

Calvin Cordozar Broadus

Google Maps has updated the satellite images for the Twin Cities area, so now you can zoom in all the way for downtown Minneapolis. Unfortunately, the images they are using now are less up-to-date than the old ones. The Hiawatha light rail line is in an earlier stage of construction, for instance.

Posted by mike at 02:30 PM | Internet | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Buffer

Heh, listening to 89.3, "These Are the Ghosts" by A Band of Bees came on. I thought I heard them say "sjøstøvler" (Norwegian for "rubber boot", pronounced something like "shoe-stev-la"), but the actual lyric was "show stiff lip." One of the few multilingual mixups I've had...

Bet you didn't know that one of the world's longest oil pipelines runs through the northern part of Minnesota. The Lakehead Pipeline was the longest pipeline in the world when an expansion was completed in 1953 (and still is if you count both of today's separate routes used to get around Lake Michigan). Overall, it's 3100 miles long, and one of the routes runs 1765 miles from near Edmonton, Alberta to Sarnia, Ontario (near Detroit).

There are one or two pipelines that go farther, about 2500 miles each: there's the Druzhba pipeline from Russia to western Europe, and another of similar length is being built from Russia to the Sea of Japan. I have a suspicion that the Druzhba pipeline was built in response to show "Soviet Might" or whatever during the Cold War, but I haven't found any reference that would support the idea yet (heck, maybe it was the other way around).

Anyway, the Pine Bend and St. Paul Park refineries (owned by Koch/Flint Hills Resources and Marathon Ashland, respectively) are both primarily served with Canadian oil that originates in the Lakehead Pipeline. There's a junction in the small town of Clearbrook, Minnesota where the Minnesota Pipeline splits off to bring oil to the Twin Cities. And here you thought your oil came from Saudi Arabia! Hah!

Posted by mike at 03:35 PM | News | Comments (0)